With a population of more than 50 million people, South Africa is one of the most developed countries in Africa. Among its strengths are an abundant supply of natural resources, particularly diamonds, and well-developed infrastructure. Outside of the country’s four major cities, however, the majority of South Africans are impoverished.
Health Care System
South Africa’s public health care system is based on a referral system between hospitals and primary health care facilities. Unlike the country’s private health care system, the public system suffers from chronic human resource shortages and limited resources. Delivery of health services is particularly difficult in rural areas which have been heavily affected by the HIV pandemic and related infectious diseases, particularly tuberculosis. Average life expectancy is 49 years of age.
South Africa has an estimated 5.6 million people living with HIV/AIDS, the largest number of any country. The adult HIV seroprevalence is estimated at 17 percent. In addition, HIV/AIDS has orphaned an estimated 1.6 million children in South Africa. HIV has most strongly affected women in South Africa: females in younger age groups are four times more likely to be HIV infected than males and as many as one-third of pregnant women are HIV infected. The government reversed its long-standing resistance to implementing a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy and began to coordinate its response to the pandemic with civil society organizations and international donors.
Support for Programmatic Activities
In South Africa, ICAP provides an array of clinical and technical support for HIV/AIDS-related activities at health facilities with the goals of enhancing service delivery, building capacity, and promoting sustainable programs. ICAP-supported activities include: